IPL 2024: SRH set up title clash with KKR

SRH players celebrate a wicket. Photo: PTI/R Senthil Kumar

Chennai: Rajasthan Royals' (RR) talented batters failed miserably in a 'slow track test' as Sunrisers Hyderabad's (SRH) unfancied spin twins Abhishek Sharma and Shahbaz Ahmed spun a web to set up a 36-run win in the Qualifier 2 and an summit date with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL 2024 here on Friday. 

Chasing a target of 176, Royals were restricted to 139/7 ensuring a third IPL final for SRH after 2016 and 2018. The final will be played here on Sunday.

On a track that offered significant turn and grip as the evening progressed and no dew to help batters, Abhishek (2/24 in 4 overs) and Shahbaz (3/23 in 4 overs) forced Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag to press the panic button that ended their hopes of a third final.

Their combined figures of 5/47 in 8 overs overshadowed the celebrated duo of Ravichandran Ashwin (0/43 in 4 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (0/34 in 4 overs), who gave away 77 runs in their quota of overs. That proved to be the difference between the two sides eventually.

From a comfortable 65 for 1 in 7.4 overs, RR collapsed to 79/5 by the end of the 12th over.

Abhishek, who had bowled only three overs in 15 games prior this night, suddenly got the ball to dip and turn while Shahbaz's deliveries gripped and one such saw the back of Sanju, who waited for an eternity to pull over the cow corner.

Jaiswal and for that matter Parag also couldn't simply get the distance as the ball stopped on them.  The humidity was around 80 per cent and hence the absence of dew only made matters worse. Dhruv Jurel (56 not out off 35 balls) tried his bit, but save Jaiswal (42 off 21 balls) all others flattered to deceive.

Earlier, Sandeep Sharma, the master operator on tacky surfaces, put his skill-sets to optimum use while restricting SRH to 175/9. The RR bowling could be segregated into three distinct parts despite Heinrich Klaasen's half-century (50, 34b) that had four maximums.

Heinrich Klaasen
Heinrich Klaasen plays a big shot. Photo: PTI/R Senthil Kumar

Trent Boult (3/45) started the slide in the Powerplays, Sandeep choked the 'Orange Army' batters in the middle overs while Avesh Khan was as menacing at the death (3/27) as he has been throughout the tournament.

The problem SRH batters, including the in-form Travis Head (34 off 28 balls), faced was the lack of pace in the surface that became a hindrance while using it for the traditional T20 ramp scoops.

Abhishek (12) at the start played one shot too many off Boult and holed out. The ploy to use Ashwin with the new ball because of his familiarity with Chepauk didn't work as Rahul Tripathi (37 off 15 balls) hit the senior off-spinner out of the attack.

Just when it seemed that he was taking control on a day when Head wasn't getting his timing right, Tripathi's poor shot selection while trying to hit Boult over short third became his undoing.

Trent Boult
Trent Boult celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Abhishek Sharma. Photo: PTI/R Senthil Kumar

Aiden Markram's re-entry in playing XI didn't pay dividends as he was out slashing at short third-man. However, with Klaasen for company, SRH were clawing back at 99/3 when Head paid for his profligacy with Sandeep rolling his fingers over.

Klaasen understood that the ball wasn't coming onto the bat and only went for the jugular to the deliveries that were in his arc as he got one of his better half-centuries in difficult conditions before a slower delivery on the blockhole rattled the furniture.

With Klaasen's departure, the chances of getting past 200 also went through the window. But in the end the total proved more than adequate for SRH.

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